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Great Lakes shipping season to kick off ahead of schedule

The bulk carrier MV John Boland passing through the Soo Locks in Sault Ste. Marie
U.S. Army Corp of Engineers
The bulk carrier MV John Boland passing through the Soo Locks in Sault Ste. Marie

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced this week that the 2024 Great Lakes shipping season will begin a few days early this year. The Poe Lock is now scheduled to open on March 22 at 6 p.m., per the request of the shipping industry. March 25 was the original start date of the season.

“The St. Lawrence Seaway has announced that it will open this spring on March 22. We would like to match that early opening at the Soo,” President of the Lake Carriers’ Association James Weakley said. “We also note that the Seaway strike in 2023 and extreme wind events toward the end of the last operating season left the fleet with undelivered cargo.”

According to the Army Corp, an expedited opening was made possible due to this year's mild winter, allowing for speedy repairs to the Poe Lock.

In a written release, Maintenance Branch Chief Nicholas Pettit said the maintenance crew worked extended days and hours to be able to accomplish all required work ahead of schedule.

The park and viewing platform at the Soo Locks will be open to the public until 8 p.m. on March 22 to allow for visitors to watch the first ship go through, with a live stream available on Facebook for those unable to attend in person.

Brianna Edgar is a newsroom intern covering the Tri-Cities for WCMU.